The Evolution of KNDRX

Rapper finds his singing voice

Up in Smoke: KNDRX (Photo by ET Tattoo)

Following a three-year drought of musical output, Cory Kendrix bounced back in late July with Me Right Now – a six-song EP marking a major stylistic reinvention for the artist previously filed firmly under “hip-hop.”

Gone are the clever spoken bars about hustlin’ and getting high that highlighted 2014’s Ignorance LP. The Austin-to-Denver transplant, re-christened as KNDRX, now kills us softly singing emotionally potent verses over hazy electronic production. “Playback” dialed up the LNS Crew member to discuss his new strain of music and life changes that led him to it.

Austin Chronicle: Tell us how this record came to document you as a singer.

Cory Kendrix: I felt like I needed to make more personal music. Ignorance had its moments of relatable instances, but I feel like, for the most part, it was just rap – I was talking about stuff, not really getting into who I was. With this project, it was easier to capture that emotionally with singing as opposed to the rap side of things.

With all the new stuff I’ve been listening to, like 6lack or the Weeknd, I gravitated toward that style. It’s more challenging, but it’s more exciting to me than rapping. Rap has gotten watered down over the years so I needed a new challenge.

AC: How does it change the way you approach creating music?

CK: It’s made music fun again. When I’m in the studio, I’m trying to find melodies and playing with sounds that aren’t typical for me. It’s a different playground. As you can imagine, after doing the same thing with the same results for years and years, it’s kind of nice to switch it up and see what new doors and new opportunities lie in front of me.

AC: The term “R&B” now gets tossed around with your new EP. Is that because the world doesn’t yet know how to classify urban-sounding music with singing and electronic beats?

CK: I’ve been submitting this project to different publications and they ask what I describe it as and I don’t know the answer exactly. Some of it’s a little edgier and some of it’s softer, but it’s not contemporary R&B. Is it pop? Is it commercial? It’s difficult to describe. I think it’s in a gray area right now where there isn’t really a title for it.

Performing is a lot more exciting now, because I get nervous when I sing. When I rap onstage, it’s second nature – it’s part of who I am, but singing is a new challenge. There are butterflies, and I think “Oh shit, what if I hit a wrong note?”

AC: What’s been going on in your life since you moved from Texas to Colorado, and how did that influence the new record?

CK: The record is basically the story of all that. I moved to Colorado right when I was about to have a child with Anna Love – who’s a great producer from Austin [whose production can be heard on Me Right Now]. She actually went to the Red Bull Music Academy. So Red Bull was like “You guys should do a project” and we did and we ended up having a baby.

AC: I bet that wasn’t the project they had in mind.

CK: Yeah, well we got the project done first and Red Bull put it out … then we made a baby. We’re both really independent people, so we decided to move away from all our family and friends and start fresh and raise a child. At the time, that was terrifying, but it’s worked out. I went from being a struggling musician in Austin to being financially capable of taking care of my family and having a nice house. It’s been kind of crazy.

So the transition from Austin to here was more or less a growing period for me as a man. Obviously dealing with being a new father and a new relationship – I’d never really been in a serious relationship – influenced this project. It’s about those feelings, the emotions, the ups-and-downs, the struggle, and the complicatedness of everything. I wanted to capture all that.

Listen to “Pain,” KNDRX’s new single, co-produced by Born88:

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KNDRX, Cory Kendrix, Anna Love, Born88

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